Today, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced
a set of criteria it would use to review clemency applications as
part of its initiative to put their money where their mouth is when
it comes to rolling back draconian sentencing policies in the U.S.
Those six criteria are, according
to a DOJ statement:
They are currently serving a federal sentence in prison and, by
operation of law, likely would have received a substantially lower
sentence if convicted of the same offense(s) today;
They are non-violent, low-level offenders without significant
ties to large scale criminal organizations, gangs or cartels;
They have served at least 10 years of their prison
They do not have a significant criminal history;
They have demonstrated good conduct in prison; and
They have no history of violence prior to or during their
current term of imprisonment.
The announcement was welcomed by civil libertarians interested
in sentencing reform. The general counsel for Families Against
Mandatory Minimums said it signaled a "truly welcome change" to the
"the culture of 'no' that has dominated" the Office of the Pardon
Attorney. The president used his clemency power earlier this month
to bring his total commutations
since taking office to ten, a slower rate than any modern
president but the last three Republicans (Reagan and the
Attorney General Eric Holder announced
in the fifth year of the Obama Administration that it would
finally be doing some thinking about sentencing reforms for the
criminal justice system. In March, Holder announced the DOJ's
intention to lower the federal prison population by 6,500 over the
next five years. As Matthew Feeney
noted at the time:
The United States, which makes up roughly 5 percent of
the world's population, houses about 25 percent of the world's
The federal prison system currently has around 216,000 prisoners, a
little more than 40 percent of whom are behind bars for for drug
As appalling as the U.S. prison population and drug policies are,
the prison population in the U.S. has been falling since
Jacob Sullum noted in March that despite the narrative presented
by outlets like The New York Times, libertarian-leaning
Republican legislators like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) were
certainly leading on sentencing reform as much if not far more
than the Obama Administration.
The criteria announced today, which include the unfortunate
requirement that someone deemed non-violent and without a
significant criminal background still waste ten years in prison
before being considered for a clemency, was billed earlier this
week by anonymous administration sources as a
significant shift in policy. How many years it will end up
shaving off for non-violent offenders wasting away in federal
prisons will measure how significant the shift actually is for an
administration not yet reaching
The Supreme Court has upheld Michigan's ban on
affirmative action in public colleges in a 6-2 decision
on Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative
Action. The ban was implemented after the passage of Proposal
2, a 2006 ballot initiative banning public college's from
giving preferential treatment to minority applicants. Justice Kagan
was recused from the case, presumably because
she worked on the case when she was U.S. solicitor general.
Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg dissented.
Last year the the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth
Circuit ruled in an
8-7 decision that Proposal 2 violated the U.S. Constitution's
Equal Protections Clause.
New Hampshire, California, Florida, Washington, Arizona,
Nebraska, and Oklahoma
have similar bans on affirmative action in place.
notes that in the majority opinion Justice Kennedy said:
Here, the principle that the consideration of race in admissions
is permissible when certain conditions are met is not being
NPR also says that in reading her dissent from the bench Justice
without checks, democratically approved legislation can oppress
The ruling will not come as a surprise to the Cato Institute's
Ilya Shapiro, who said
the following in October:
In no conceivable world can the Equal Protection Clause – the
constitutional provision that bans racial discrimination – prohibit
a state law that bans racial discrimination. The Supreme Court
should and almost certainly will reverse the lower court's
ridiculous judgment to the contrary, and will likely do so with a
great degree of unanimity.
Writing at about the case for SCOTUS Blog University of Chicago law professor
Richard Epstein said that although he wouldn't have voted for
Proposal 2, "Any public institution that employs either a
colorblind or affirmative action policy within the institutions
that it supports and operates should be responsive to the will of
popular majorities in a democratic society." From SCOTUS
To repeat, I think that Proposal 2 is a mistake, and would vote
against it. But I do not think that we have reached the point
where colorblind legislation should be regarded as unconstitutional
because of its supposed effect on the political process. Any
public institution that employs either a colorblind or affirmative
action policy within the institutions that it supports and operates
should be responsive to the will of popular majorities in a
democratic society. Where the state loses its power is in its
ability to force private institutions to follow what the public
dictates. I think the endless array of fair housing laws are
indeed unconstitutional except in those situations, which almost
never arise, where a credible claim can be made that a given party
has monopoly power in some given market. That was the older
rule that used a nondiscrimination rule to offset monopoly power,
but never otherwise. It is a long argument, for another day.
Subject to this qualification, the public/private distinction
should have some real bite. I believe that this issue will
come back to the Supreme Court in some form no matter how the Court
comes out in Schuette.
In October, Reason Foundation's Shikha Dalmia wrote about how
Michigan's Proposal 2 doesn't discriminate against racial
minorities but rather discriminates "against racial
Last November, however, the 6th Circuit Court ruled that this
ban on discrimination was itself discriminatory. Why? Essentially,
because it would require minorities who want preferential treatment
to amend the Constitution. However, other groups — veterans,
parents, firefighters — need only go through normal legislative
channels to promote their interests. This "political restructuring"
supposedly burdens the democratic rights of minorities and violates
the 14th Amendment.
It's an interesting argument, but wrong. As University of San
Diego law professor Gail Heriot notes, Prop. 2 doesn't discriminate
against racial minorities but against racial discrimination. It
doesn't just bar blacks from seeking special preferences in college
admissions but whites, too. Each can, however, petition for, say,
greater funding for sickle-cell anemia (which particularly afflicts
blacks) or skin cancer (which disproportionately affects
In other words, every racial group is equally encumbered when
promoting racial privileges and equally unencumbered when promoting
Dalmia has also
noted that judges will never be able to eliminate affirmative
action from higher education.
Today the Obama administration
announced another delay in deciding whether to approve the Keystone
XL oil pipeline from Canada through the United States until later
in the year, possibly past the midterm elections.
Officials said they are stopping the clock on an assessment of
the controversial project due to litigation in Nebraska over the
pipeline's proposed route.
The department said it notified eight federal agencies engaged
in the review that it would "provide more time for the submission
of their views" on Keystone XL.
"Agencies need additional time based on the uncertainty created
by the on-going litigation in the Nebraska Supreme Court which
could ultimately affect the pipeline route in that state," the
State Department said in a press release on Friday.
"In addition, during this time we will review and appropriately
consider the unprecedented number of new public comments,
approximately 2.5 million, received during the public comment
period that closed on March 7, 2014," the agency said.
The administration's review was supposed to be completed by
The Nebraska lawsuit revolves around who in the state has
the authority to authorize eminent domain to grab land to create
the pipeline. The legislature passed a law giving the power to the
state's governor. The judge ruled the state could not do that.
From The Washington Post in February:
The Nebraska law struck down Wednesday allowed TransCanada to
seek approval of the project from the state's elected five-member
Public Service Commission or from [Gov. Dave] Heineman. After
approving the route, Heineman gave the pipeline company power of
eminent domain to acquire land. …
But [Lancaster County District Judge Stephanie] Stacy ruled that
the state legislature could not pass such a law. "It is clear," she
wrote, "the Legislature cannot . . . divest the PSC of jurisdiction
over a class of common carriers and vest such power in another
governmental agency, body of government, or branch of government,
except the Legislature."
Most Americans want the Pipeline
Our most Reason-Rupe poll shows that a majority
of Americans, 61 percent, support building the pipeline, despite
the activism of environmentalists to halt it. A majority, 65
percent, think it will not impact President Barack Obama's
favorability if he approves it. Reason's Emily Ekins
Despite fervent opposition from the liberal wing of the
president's party, 50 percent of Democrats favor approving the oil
route while 43 percent oppose. However, Reason-Rupe's
measure of ideological groups find that
ideological liberals are opposed to the pipeline with 37
percent in favor and 57 percent opposed.
Republicans are most favorable of Keystone, by a margin of 82 to
13 percent. A majority (57 percent) of independents are also in
favor, while 35 percent are opposed.
Today, diplomats from the European Union, Russia, the U.S., and
met in Geneva to discuss the crisis in Ukraine. After the
meeting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign
Minister Sergei Lavrov announced that the parties had agreed to the
That all "illegal armed groups" in eastern Ukraine must
immediately lay down their weapons.
That all "illegally seized buildings" in eastern Ukraine must
immediately be returned to that nation's authorities.
That all protesters in eastern Ukraine, who have been pushing
to join the Russian Federation, will be granted amnesty by the
Ukrainian government unless they are judged to be guilty of capital
Background on pro-Russian activists in eastern
On April 6 pro-Russian activists
stormed government buildings in eastern Ukraine. The activists
flew a Russian flag over a regional government building in Donetsk,
which is in the same province ousted president Viktor Yanukovych
comes from, and seized security offices in Luhansk, a city which
lies about 15 miles to the west of the Russian border.
The next day pro-Russian activists in Donetsk declared an
"people's republic" and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said
that the seizure of government buildings in eastern Ukraine was
being organized by Russia in order to orchestrate an excuse for the
sort of military intervention seen in Crimea.
Writing in Time
magazine, Simon Shuster outlined why a Russian invasion of eastern
Ukraine would be very different to the invasion of Crimea:
For one thing, Ukraine will defend itself. In February, when
pro-Russian gunmen seized the Crimean parliament and installed a
separatist leader, Ukraine did not have a central government
capable of stopping them. The revolutionaries in Kiev, the capital,
had only toppled the old regime a week before, and they were
too busy deciding who would lead the nation to mount any defense of
Crimea. The picture since then has changed. Ukraine’s institutions
are functioning, and though the country’s economic affairs are
hardly in order, it does have a police force and a military command
structure to throw into the fight.
More from Shuster:
The demographics of eastern Ukraine also would not lend
themselves to a secessionist referendum. According to the most
recent census held in 2001, ethnic Ukrainians make up nearly 60% of
the population in Donetsk and Luhansk, and more than 70% in
Kharkiv, compared to only 24% in Crimea, where the majority are
ethnic Russians. So it is hardly likely that a referendum in these
eastern regions would result in a decision to break from Ukraine
and join Russia, at least not by the overwhelming majority that was
seen in Crimea last month.
More importantly, such a referendum could only be held if Russia
first manages to occupy these regions, kick out the Ukrainian
security forces and install a separatist government that could push
ahead with a Crimean-style plebiscite under the gun. That would
mean a Russian land invasion and, most likely, the start of a
full-scale war that would cost many lives on both sides, pitting
the armies of two fraternal nations against each other, nations
that share ties of culture, religion, language and oftentimes
Though Russia would surely win such a conflict, the conquered
territory of east Ukraine would be much harder to defend.
The situation has been repeated several times now across east
Ukraine following Kiev's announcement of its anti-terrorist
operation at the weekend: Ukrainian troops and their hardware are
blocked by angry residents, who stop them in their tracks and
convince them to turn round or even withdraw.
On Wednesday, pro-Russian militia captured six Ukrainian
infantry fighting vehicles and, allegedly, 60 soldiers in
Kramatorsk, driving them to nearby Slavyansk with a Russian flag
The moment was a symbolic victory for pro-Russian forces in a
conflict so far confined to isolated shootouts. Two people have
been confirmed dead.
But defence experts in Kiev warned not to rule out the Ukraine
government's "anti-terrorist" campaign, as the elite special forces
designated to lead the operation had yet to see significant action.
The troops most likely had orders not to attack civilians, they
The seizure of the six fighting vehicles was a huge black eye
for Kiev, especially after some of the Ukrainian troops reportedly
defected to the pro-Russian side.The acting defence minister,
Mykhailo Koval, was on Wednesday on his way to east Ukraine.
Throughout the crisis in eastern Ukraine the Russians have been
building up their military presence near the Ukrainian
border. Yesterday NATO
members agreed to increase its air patrols in the Baltics and
deploy warships in response. This morning Putin said on live TV
that he had the right to send troops into
Ukraine but added that he hopes he won't have to do so:
"The people in the eastern regions have started arming
themselves," Putin said in response to a question about the
Ukrainian crisis. "And instead of realizing that something isn’t
right in the Ukrainian state and moving toward a dialogue, [the
government in Kiev] began threatening more force and even moved in
tanks and planes against the peaceful population. This is yet
another very serious crime of Ukraine’s current rulers." He then
reminded viewers that the Russian parliament has given him approval
to send troops into Ukraine. "I really hope that I’m won’t be
forced to use that right," he says.
Jews ordered to register in Donetsk
Today it was reported by Ukrainian and Israeli media that Jews
in Donetsk were being asked to "register" with separatists in the
city. From USA Today:
Jews emerging from a synagogue say they were handed leaflets
that ordered the city's Jews to provide a list of property they own
and pay a registration fee "or else have their citizenship revoked,
face deportation and see their assets confiscated," reported Ynet
News, Israel's largest news website.
Donetsk is the site of an "anti-terrorist" operation by the
Ukraine government, which has moved military columns into the
region to force out militants who are demanding a referendum be
held on joining Russia. The news was carried first by the Ukraine's
Donbass news agency.
John Kerry has confirmed that the leaflets were sent out and
called the development "grotesque." The leaflets are signed by
Denis Pushilin, chairman of Donetsk's government, who has denied
any connection to their content. From
Kerry's comments follow a report in Israel's Ynet News that a
leaflet was circulating in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk,
demanding that Jews register -- as well as provide a list of
property they own -- or else face deportation and revocation of
citizenship. Pro-Russian activists have asserted partial control
over some government buildings in that city.
Ynet reported that the notices, sent as the Passover holiday
began, were signed by Denis Pushilin, chairman of Donetsk's
temporary government -- though Ynet reports that Pushilin confirmed
the flyers came from his organization, "but denied any connection
to the leaflet's content."
The New Republic, Julia Ioffe notes that the registration
mentioned in the leaflets is not being enforced:
...the Jews of Donetsk and eastern Ukraine may have been asked
by a leaflet to register, but it has not been enforced nor are any
Ukrainian Jews registering themselves. If that changes, I'll be all
over it, but so far, you can breathe easy. No Holocaust 2.0 just
Ukrainian and Russian languages in Ukraine
Russian is spoken by many people in eastern Ukraine. Map of
majority languages in Ukraine based on 2001 census data
However, as Matthew Light, an assistant professor in the
department of political science at the University of Toronto, and
Maria Popova, an assistant professor in the department of political
science at McGill University,
point out, there are distinctions between Ukrainian and Russian
speakers in Ukraine:
First, the overwhelming majority of Ukrainian citizens speak and
understand both languages. Ukrainian- and Russian-speakers have
lived in proximity for centuries. Many people slip back and forth
easily between the two languages, and tell jokes and sing songs in
both of them. Ukraine is the bilingual country Canada aspires to
Second, Ukraine’s civic identity does not depend primarily on
language. Even among Ukrainians who prefer to speak Russian, only a
minority consider themselves ethnic Russians. Many Russian-speakers
proudly identify as Ukrainians. Indeed, while most Russian-speaking
Ukrainians want cordial ties with Russia, most envision those ties
as good neighborly relations, trade, cultural exchange, and free
movement between two independent countries. Only minorities in the
south (10 to 20 per cent of the population) and east (15 to 33 per
cent) support either the unification of Russia and Ukraine or the
annexation of their home region by Russia. Thus, support for
separatism is actually lower in eastern and southern Ukraine than
in Quebec. Surveys conducted in March show that only 15 per cent in
the south and east support Russia’s seizure of Crimea. Even former
president Viktor Yanukovych, a Moscow ally and a Donetsk native,
has called on Russia to return Crimea to Ukraine.
Third, Ukraine’s current national unity problems are not the
product of prior separatist conflict. Contrary to Russian claims,
before the current protests in eastern Ukraine, the region was not
showing signs of separatism. Eastern and southern Ukrainians
accepted the legitimacy of Viktor Yushchenko, a president with a
strong base in western Ukraine. Secessionist parties were marginal.
The electorate participated eagerly in national elections.
Politicians from the south and east vied for national power and
made their careers on the national stage – former Presidents Leonid
Kuchma and Mr. Yanukovych, and former Prime Minister Yulia
Tymoshenko all hail from the east.
If you thought you were frustrated with filing
your taxes recently this post will probably not help.
According to Marketplace the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which
loses an estimated $300 billion due to tax evasion every year, is
using data from social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and
Twitter in order to investigate those who don't file taxes or file
We're all just trying to get through this time of year without
losing our shirts and—of course—without getting audited. The IRS is
kicking into high gear, too. Their goals are a bit different than
ours, though. The agency is hoping to catch tax dodgers. It loses
an estimated $300 billion a year to tax evasion, and getting that
money isn’t getting easier. Because of budget cuts, the IRS will
have fewer auditing agents than at any time since the 1980s.
Enter robots. After all, the IRS may not have a whole lot of
money or manpower, but it has a gold mine of data on you. A lot of
it from... well... you.
"It’s hard to believe that anybody who puts anything on Facebook
has any legitimate expectation of privacy," says Edward Zelinsky, a
professor of tax law at the Cordozo School of Law.
Those fancy vacation photos you posted on Instagram? The
Facebook status update about your new car? The tweets about your
wildly successful side business?
All fair game for the IRS.
This sort of social media mining is nothing new to the National
Security Agency (NSA).
In September CNN reported on information leaked by NSA
whistle-blower Edward Snowden, which revealed that the intelligence
agency was collecting social media data on American citizens. From
In addition to phone records and email logs, the National
Security Agency uses Facebook and other social media profiles to
create maps of social connections -- including those of American
The revelation was disclosed by the New York Times on Sunday,
using documents provided to the newspaper by former government
contractor Edward Snowden.
"We assume as Americans that if somebody in the government is
looking at your information, it's because they have a reason,
because you're suspected of a crime," Karen Greenberg, director of
the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School, told
But the documents do not specify how many Americans' social
connections have been analyzed, or whether any have been implicated
In February 2012 it was reported that the FBI was seeking the
ability to scan social media sites for information.
Hundreds of intelligence analysts already sift overseas Twitter
and Facebook posts to track events such as the Arab Spring. But in
a formal "request for information’’ from potential contractors, the
FBI recently outlined its desire for a digital tool to scan the
entire universe of social media — more data than humans could ever
The Department of Defense and the Office of the Director of
National Intelligence also have solicited the private sector for
ways to automate the process of identifying emerging threats and
upheavals using the billions of posts people around the world share
"Social media has emerged to be the first instance of
communication about a crisis, trumping traditional first responders
that included police, firefighters, EMT, and journalists,’’ the FBI
wrote in its request. "Social media is rivaling 911 services in
crisis response and reporting.’’
Yesterday FBI Director James Comey said that the agency can
monitor the Internet without compromising privacy in order to
tackle computer crime, "The Internet is a dangerous neighborhood.
We need to be there to patrol it."
FBI Director James Comey was in Milwaukee to visit local law
enforcement officers as part of an effort to visit all 56 of the
agency’s field offices. He met with reporters afterward, taking
questions about FBI efforts to target violent crimes, stem the tide
of heroin abuse and combat human trafficking.
He was also asked about cybersecurity issues, including the
Target Corp. data breach and recent revealing of the Heartbleed
glitch, which has caused major security concerns across the
Internet. He was asked how the government balances fighting crime
with respecting Americans’ liberty.
Comey said he rejected the idea that liberty and security can’t
co-exist. He said security improves liberty by getting rid of
people who would do harm, leaving more freedom for citizens who use
the Internet for legitimate reasons.
The Internet is “where children play, it’s where our social
lives are, it’s where our health care is, it’s where our money is.
Everything is there — and so that’s where bad people come to get
those things,” he said. “… The Internet is a dangerous
neighborhood. We need to be there to patrol it. And by being there
in a responsible, lawful, carefully overseen way, we can enhance
both security and liberty.”
If the IRS' monitoring of social media doesn't have you angry
enough, think about the fact that the agency is reportedly
considering taxing free work perks such as gym memberships and
In competitive job markets like Silicon Valley, companies are
doing everything they can to entice the best and brightest --
offering freebies that have become the stuff of legend.
Employee perks like free food at lavish cafeterias, laundry and
even yoga are not unheard of.
But the taxman could soon crack down.
The IRS reportedly is looking at these perks and seeing if these
companies need to start paying up for the free stuff they offer
David Gamage, a tax expert and professor at the University of
California, Berkeley, said it would really boil down to who
benefits from these perks.
"To what extent is this intended as a perk, a form of
compensation, for the benefit of the employee, or to what extent is
this just another way the employer gets the employee to work harder
and longer and do things for the benefit of the employer?" he
If it's the latter, then it's harder for the IRS to tax it.
It's the worst holiday in the universe. Even worse than Arbor
Day. Today is the deadline for Americans to file their income
Reason has a selection of tax-related stories to angry up the
blood today. Skim through our selection here.
But perhaps you'd like to chuckle ruefully instead over the
terrible reality of America's dysfunctional tax systems. Let's
start with Reason TV's videos for tax day. First, can the costs of
caring for dragons be written off as a business expense if you use
them to overthrow kingdoms?
Hey Cersei, remember you can still count Joffrey as a deduction
for your 2013 filing. Maybe that will ease the sting a little bit.
The Starks, though; they should probably file for an extension.
And here we have Remy slathering on the irony in a "Crappy"
parody of Pharell's latest hit. Remember folks, taxes are the price
we pay to live in a "civilized society" that has no earthly idea
where the money is actually going:
In the category of "Isn't it funny how stupid Senate Majority
Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is?" here's an old interview with him
explaining how paying taxes is voluntary. Laugh to keep from
Over the weekend, the Bureau of Land Management
announced it would stop trying to enforce a court order against
Cliven Bundy over grazing fees the agency says Bundy owes them.
Cattle from the Bundy family ranch in Nevada, which has been in
operation since the 1880s, graze on land claimed by the feds. The
BLM confiscated some cattle, but may now reportedly share the
revenue from selling that cattle with the Bundy family. Bundy
threatened a “range
war” over the issue.
Despite the BLM’s announcement, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.)
told local TV station KRNV that the showdown wasn’t over. “We
can't have an American people that violate the law and then just
walk away from it,” said Reid. “So it’s not over.” How involved is
Reid with the drama at the Bundy ranch? The Washington
Speculation on Mr. Reid’s role in last week’s
confrontation at the ranch has been rife, given his prominent
position as Nevada’s elder statesman and his ties to BLM director
Mr. Kornze, 35, served for eight years on the Senate leader’s staff
before joining the BLM in 2011. He was the Mr. Reid’s pick to head
the agency, and his final confirmation was April 8 as the roundup
at the Bundy ranch was underway.
In an updated statement Saturday, Mr. Kornze said the cattle gather
was halted “because of our grave concern about the safety of
employees and members of the public.”
Mr. Reid also has been accused of attempting to shut down the ranch
in order to move ahead with two nearby solar energy projects, an
accusation denied Monday by the senator’s press aide.
Reid spokeswoman Kristen Orthman told KLAS-TV in Las Vegas that
“there is no truth to the conspiracy theories that are being pushed
by right-wing media outlets.”
Orthman’s attack on “right-wing media outlets” and “conspiracy
theories” may be a case of the lady protesting too much.
Politicians on both sides of the aisle often make money hand over
fist because of their connections to the feds and the insider
information they have access to.
argues the land his family uses for cattle grazing actually
belongs to the state of Nevada, whose laws permit them to graze on
it. The feds and their apologists
argue the federal government owns the land, or is holding it in
trust “for all of us.” Protesters who arrived to defend the Bundy
declared victory, and the family hopes recent events may put
pressure on a judge to rule in the state’s favor. Bundy says he’s
inspecting his cattle for possible damage by federal
Earlier this month, former Florida Governor
Jeb Bush (R) said that many people who come to the U.S.
illegally do so as "an act of love." Bush defended his comments
a few days later saying, "You know, I’ve been saying this for
the last three or four years, I said the exact same thing that I've
In an interview that aired yesterday on ABC’s This
Week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said that Bush "might have been
more artful, maybe, in the way he presented this, but I don’t want
to say, 'Oh he’s terrible for saying this.'"
Paul went on to say, "If it were me, what I would have said is,
'People who seek the American dream are not bad people. … However,
we can’t invite the whole world.' When you say they are doing an
act of love and you don’t follow it up with 'but we have to control
the border' people think 'well because they're doing this for kind
reasons that the whole world can come to our country.'"
Watch a video of Paul’s comments below (immigration comments
start at 1:57 mark).
Paul on Immigration
Paul mentioned border control in a June 2013 Politico
op-ed while explaining why he would be voting "no" on immigration
reform. From Politico:
I will be voting no on the Senate’s Gang of Eight immigration
bill for one simple reason: because the legislation does not secure
the border first.
The American people desperately need immigration reform.
Unfortunately, this legislation does not do the job.
Of paramount concern is what to do with the 12 million people
currently residing in the United States who are in legal limbo. No
one is seriously contemplating they leave, but conservatives
believe that normalizing their status should only follow serious
efforts to secure the U.S.-Mexican border. And I’m sorry to say
that the Gang of Eight’s proposal is just not serious.
In July 2013 Paul said that the Republican Party needs to
"welcome" immigrants. From Politico:
The former Bowling Green ophthalmologist said that he could only
support a reform measure that implements strict border security
before – or at least simultaneous with – giving some legal status
to undocumented immigrants.
"Because I am for immigration reform, because I am for finding a
place in society for people, doesn’t mean I have to vote for a
crummy bill," Paul said. "Really a lot of conservatives who are for
immigration reform, like myself, just want Congress to be in charge
of deciding whether the border is secure."
Paul has frustrated some Republicans during the immigration
debate by consistently arguing in favor of reform at the conceptual
level, but shying away from each of the compromise proposals that
came up in Senate negotiations.
He took a dismissive tone Thursday toward the final deal that
his colleagues in the so-called "Gang of Eight" hammered out, which
involved steep increases in funding for a list of border security
enhancements. "They just kind of went crazy at the end," Paul
Still, Paul’s pro-reform rhetoric is significant at a moment
when many congressional Republicans are unsure whether they even
want to try and pass a comprehensive overhaul.
Earlier this month Paul said that the Republican Party needs "to
get beyond deportation" and that the future of the GOP depends on
Republicans connecting with Hispanics.
From Fox News Latino:
Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul told fellow Republicans on Tuesday
that the future of their party depends on them connecting with
Hispanics in a more empathetic way and on getting in front of
immigration reform—a message that further signals his flirtation
with a 2016 presidential run.
"If we are to change people’s attitudes toward … the Republican
Party, we have to show up and we have to have something to say,"
Paul told a small group of conservatives gathered at the Newseum in
Washington, D.C. "I hope to be part of that dialogue."
This certainly was not the first time that Paul, since being
elected to the Senate in 2010, has attempted to connect with
Hispanics and other minorities.
Updated at the bottom with a response from the National
It’s possibly the biggest security vulnerability ever discovered
on the Internet. It's known as "Heartbleed," a glitch in the very
software used to provide basic encryption at hundreds of thousands
of Internet sites allowed hackers to access the data the encryption
was supposed to protect. The bug was disclosed earlier this week,
and Internet users are encouraged to change all their
Today, Bloomberg reports that the National Security Agency has
known about this glitch for at least two years and used it to
gather intelligence, while keeping knowledge of the bug to
What is Heartbleed?
CNet offers a primer and FAQ on what Heartbleed is and
how it works, though it can get a little technical. The glitch
allows a hacker to use a protocol used to keep communication open
between an Internet connection and a server to collect additional
data that is supposed to be kept secure through this very
encryption process. This means data that users thought was being
kept secure, symbolized by the little padlock symbol on their web
browsers, was not secure at all.
Probably the best illustration of how the glitch works comes
from nerdy online comic xkcd:
Sites have been scrambling to fix the glitch. You can visit a
Heartbleed checker here to see if sites you use
are still affected. (For those of you registered to comment on
Reason, it says we are now safe, but recommends changing
your password if you haven’t done so recently).
The NSA Knew and Said Nothing?
According to Bloomberg today, the NSA has known about the flaw
and said nothing, even though it may have contributed to untold
amounts of consumer fraud. And if other nations’ intelligence
services knew, nations that perhaps want to infiltrate activists
and political opponents, there’s no telling what they might have
The U.S. National Security Agency knew for at least two years
about a flaw in the way that many websites send sensitive
information, now dubbed the Heartbleed bug, and regularly used it
to gather critical intelligence, two people familiar with the
The NSA’s decision to keep the bug secret in pursuit of national
security interests threatens to renew the rancorous debate over the
role of the government’s top computer experts. …
“It flies in the face of the agency’s comments that defense
comes first,” said Jason Healey, director of the cyber statecraft
initiative at the Atlantic Council and a former Air Force cyber
officer. “They are going to be completely shredded by the computer
security community for this.”
Update: The NSA, in a tweet, responded to the
Bloomberg story that
it was unaware of the Heartbleed flaw until it was made public
longer response from the Office of the Director of National
Reports that NSA or any other part of the government were aware
of the so-called Heartbleed vulnerability before April 2014 are
wrong. The Federal government was not aware of the recently
identified vulnerability in OpenSSL until it was made public in a
private sector cybersecurity report. The Federal government relies
on OpenSSL to protect the privacy of users of government websites
and other online services. This Administration takes seriously its
responsibility to help maintain an open, interoperable, secure and
reliable Internet. If the Federal government, including the
intelligence community, had discovered this vulnerability prior to
last week, it would have been disclosed to the community
responsible for OpenSSL.
For months critics of Obamacare's disastrous
October rollout insisted President Obama show he was serious about
holding his underlings accountable by firing someone for
messing up. He didn't. But now, six month later, Health and Human
Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has
submitted her resignation. She cited Obamacare's roll-out as
the reason, displaying what it means to "move at the speed of
Although Sebelius' departure removes one prominent target for
Obamacare critics, Reason's Peter Suderman notes it's not
or not just, her fault:
Maybe—probably—Sebelius doesn't deserve all or even the
majority of the blame for the administration's health law
screw-ups. But regardless of her impact, as the most visible
official associated with the law aside from President Obama, she
deserved to be shown the door—or at least be given the opportunity
to show herself out.
Suderman notes that Sebelius was merely the face or "front
person" for Obamacare, and while she may have been its "worst
flack," others are to blame for the Obamacare disaster too. Most of
them have escaped accountability. For example one official largely
responsible for the administrative effort related to Obamacare was
able to quietly
leave for a cushy lobbying job in January.
Over at Time magazine, meanwhile, Reason's
Nick Gillespie explains
how Sebelius' incompetence helped fuel mistrust of government and
skepticism about how much power it should wield. Sebelius famously
compared her efforts to launch Obamacare to Apple's product
launches. Despite the federal government spending more than $667
million on the design and implementation of Obamacare Sebelius
claimed she had fewer resources than Apple for the Obamacare
launch. Gillespie concludes:
Sebelius's abrupt resignation, then, is the fitting
capstone of a cabinet tenure that did nothing to inspire feelings
of competency and trust in government in a century that is so far
replete with revelations of bipartisan secret surveillance,
financial mismanagement of the nation, and failed foreign
We deserved better than Kathleen Sebelius. And we should demand
more from our public officials with the same vigor we do when
buying, say, Apple products.
Gillespie also flagged the reaction of Ezra Klein, the columnist
who is now heading Vox.com, an effort at non-ideological "deep
journalism." Here's Klein's explanation of why Sebelius, who said
she was resigning because of the botched Obamacare rollout,
Obamacare has won. And that's why Secretary of Health
and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius can resign…
The evidence has piled
up in recent weeks that the strategy worked.
Obamacare's first year, despite a truly horrific start, was a
success. More than 7 million people look to have signed up for
health insurance through the exchanges. Millions more have signed
up through Medicaid. And millions beyond that have signed up for
insurance through their employers.
Healthcare.gov isn't perfect, but it works. We don't yet know how
many young people signed up in March, but it's clear that there are
enough of them to keep premiums stable in 2015. It's clear that
insurers are going to stick with the program in 2015, and compete
hard to sign up next year's wave of young, healthy
The White House's announcement on who would replace Sebelius,
Suderman noted, was also a veiled criticism of the outgoing health
Even the statement by White House Chief of Staff Denis
McDonough on her replacement, current Office of Management and
Budget Chief Syliva Burwell, sounds more like a knife in the back
than a fond farewell. "The president wants to make sure we have a
proven manager and relentless implementer in the job over there,
which is why he is going to nominate Sylvia," McDonough said on
The clear implication here is that Sebelius was none of those
things. And certainly, judging by last October's botched launch of
the federal health insurance exchange, it's an easy and obvious
judgment to make about her work for the
TheWall Street Journal
calls Burwell "one of the most experiences officials in Obama's
White House" and reports that she's spent the last several months
as budget office chief "trying to slowly repair frayed relations
between the White House and congressional Republicans on tax and